Any attempt to cheat, especially with my wife, who is a dirty, dirty, tramp, and I am just gonna snap.
Adam Sandler joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1991. He joined after several slumping years, when the old guard of John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Eddie Murphy were long gone, when for years a good cast had yet to gel. Some of the SNLers we think of as Sandler’s contemporaries had joined a few years previous — Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Phil Hartman — and he came on board with the likes of Chris Farley, David Spade, and Tim Meadows. That was the Silver Age of SNL, and it has yet to recover its previous brilliance, leading to its current malaise of Seth Meyers and Rachel Dratch. Blah. This core group would make for some of the strongest years in SNL history, until 1995 when a lot of them bailed ship for better waters. Phil Hartman went on to NewsRadio, where his three-year run ended with his untimely death. Chris Farley and David Spade made one of the finest stupid comedies ever with Tommy Boy. Mike Meyers seemingly took a couple years off, though you can imagine it took a while to write and prepare a movie like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. And Adam Sandler? He made Billy Madison. Like Star Wars for Harrison Ford, or Top Gun for Tom Cruise, Billy Madison was the film that took bit-player Adam Sandler and make him a headlining star.
Don’t tell me my business, devil woman! Call the fire department, this one’s out of control!
Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are films cut from the same cloth, so it’s easy to list their merits in aggregate. They’re the sort of reasonably safe, reasonably inoffensive humor you got from most SNL alums in the 1990s. Scatological humor is present, though in limited doses. There’s profanity, but it’s kept in check by box office-friendly PG-13 ratings. (Unshackled by such niceties, Sandler’s comedy albums turn the dials up to 11, often to funnier results than his films. What the Hell Happened to Me! is a highly profane laugh riot, with highlights like the talking goat or the “piece of s*** car” song.) Sandler’s trademark comic talents are on display — funny voices, angry outbursts, stupid faces. His characters coast by on their goofball charm. He never sings…well, okay, there’s the musical number in Billy Madison, but that’s different. Your acceptance of his comedic idiom will dictate your enjoyment of these films, but on the other hand that’s not all they rely upon.
You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up. Now, you will go to sleep or I will put you to sleep. Check out the name tag. You’re in my world now, grandma.
What really makes these films stand out — and what makes them well worth seeing — is the warm embrace they give to the absurd. Now granted, when compared to, say, a Charlie Kaufman film, they’re straight-ahead and boring, but they’re positively bizarre next to most Hollywood fare. Billy Madison in particular is full of the unexpected. There’s the hallucinogenic penguin, the housekeeper with a crush on Billy, Steve Buscemi in lipstick, a banana peel that keeps making an appearance until it meets its inevitable purpose in life, the principal who was formerly a pro wrestler known as the “Revolting Blob,” and of course, the musical number worthy of Rodgers and Hammerstein, except with its grand finale of “Do you have any more gum?” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I groan at Sandler’s antics early in the film, but I find myself gravitating back to it because of these little weirdisms add up to such a fun experience. Happy Gilmore is a little more subdued in this regard, but is overall more satisfying. The incongruities aren’t as pronounced, but they weave into the fabric of the film in a more effective way. The highlight is a fight scene between Happy and game show host Bob Barker, which I won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it. Oh, and there’s a midget. Midgets are always funny.
If you’re gonna stay home today, you can help me shave my armpits.
Universal has bundled these movies together in the (rather uncreatively named) “Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore Collection.” Both films are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (a first on DVD for Happy Gilmore). The transfers are uniformly excellent, with a minimum of edge enhancement and perfectly preserved, bright, vibrant color palettes. On the downside, they’re both grainier than you’d expect. Audio options include Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, 2.0 Surround in French and Spanish, and in what seems to becoming standard for Universal, DTS 5.1 in English. While these films are comedies and don’t really push the envelope of sound design, the DTS mixes bring their characteristic clarity and improved frequency response.
I’ll tell you who it was, it was that damned Sasquatch!
Double-dipped special editions are supposed to be special, to offer some reason for us to shell out money yet again, but Universal doesn’t seem to understand. While the original aspect ratio transfers and upgraded DTS sound are nice touches, the bonus features for these discs aren’t really worthwhile. Both contain deleted scenes, outtakes, and production notes (what, no trailers?), and Billy Madison has a commentary track by director Tamra Davis (her other credits include CB4 and the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads, as well as videos for everyone from Depeche Mode to Hanson — “Mmmbop” was her creation). The deleted scenes for both movies contain funny bits, but the best stuff is already in the movies. Outtakes — meh. The production notes are more informative that the usual textual slides you find on these discs. Tamra Davis’s commentary track is maddening. She admits up-front that she hasn’t seen the movie in a while, so she stops frequently to listen to the movie. Her comments sometimes describe the action, but every once in a while, she drops some very interesting information about what it was like to work on the film.
You little son of a bitch ball! Why you don’t you just go home? That’s your home! Are you too good for your home? Answer me! Suck my white ass, ball!
So, is this box set worth buying? You bet. Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are both very freakin’ funny. They’re both the sort of film that has great replay value, that you can watch whenever you need your funnybone tickled. Though they’re far below the bar for special editions, you get a good technical presentation of two funny movies. Case dismissed!
Damn you people. Go back to your shanties!